The Dance tweet

Our view: Crit­i­cism of Balto. Co. su­per­in­ten­dent reaches a new height of ab­sur­dity

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE -

On elec­tion night, a former Mont­gomery County schools su­per­in­ten­dent posted a mes­sage on so­cial me­dia sug­gest­ing ed­u­ca­tors show Mus­lim, black, Latino, Jewish, dis­abled “or just non-white” stu­dents “that you love them and will pro­tect them!” Dal­las Dance, the cur­rent su­per­in­ten­dent of Baltimore County Public Schools, re-tweeted that mes­sage on his Twit­ter ac­count Wed­nes­day morn­ing. And then a whole lot of stu­pid­ity broke out. Some par­ents be­came up­set be­cause the orig­i­nal tweet from Joshua P. Starr didn’t specif­i­cally men­tion white stu­dents. They posted their com­plaints on so­cial me­dia. And chief among them was a per­cep­tion that Mr. Dance is more in­clined to sup­port mi­nor­ity stu­dents than he is white stu­dents.

That’s just silly on mul­ti­ple lev­els. Show­ing ex­tra com­pas­sion for Mus­lim, black, Latino and other mi­nori­ties is hardly a stretch, given much of what Don­ald Trump said dur­ing the cam­paign and — irony alert — posted on Twit­ter. That Mr. Starr’s orig­i­nal post didn’t of­fer a full laun­dry list of the po­ten­tially dis­cour­aged (in­deed, nearly two-thirds of Mary­land vot­ers might have qual­i­fied) says more about the medium and its 140-char­ac­ter limit than the mes­sage.

All of which could eas­ily be dis­missed as the usual so­cial me­dia clut­ter, but then the politi­cians jumped in. Repub­li­can state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling said the tweet “causes divi­sion” be­cause of the “non-white” lan­guage. Del. Joe Clus­ter said he would ask for Mr. Dance’s res­ig­na­tion. Ann Miller, the county school board’s res­i­dent bomb-thrower, wrote a let­ter ac­cus­ing the su­per­in­ten­dent of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior and “cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment of fear where there is no ev­i­dence it is war­ranted.”

Ap­par­ently, Ms. Miller doesn’t get around much, so, for her ben­e­fit, we would re­spect­fully point her to the more than 200 in­ci­dents of hate­ful in­tim­i­da­tion, van­dal­ism and ha­rass­ment since the elec­tion com­piled by the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter as of last Fri­day. The leader so far? Anti-black mes­sages and be­hav­ior, fol­lowed by those di­rected at im­mi­grants. (An­tiTrump con­tent also made the list but well be­hind anti-Mus­lim and anti-LGBT in­ci­dents).

And while it’s en­tirely pos­si­ble a lot of white stu­dents felt dis­cour­aged by the elec­tion re­sults, noth­ing in the tweet or re-tweet sug­gests they shouldn’t be shown com­pas­sion as well.

But to demon­strate that there’s al­ways a place for ab­sur­dity to be­come more ab­surd, now comes Del. Pat “black youth mobs in the In­ner Har­bor” McDonough show­ing his cus­tom­ary poor judg­ment and na­tivist ten­den­cies by call­ing for an ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mr. Dance’s re-tweet. “Would Su­per­in­ten­dent Dance ask for spe­cial treat­ment for white stu­dents if Hil­lary Clin­ton had won the presidency after re­fer­ring to some of their par­ents as ‘ir­re­deemable de­plorables?’” the del­e­gate asked in a re­cent state­ment.

First, Mr. Dance didn’t ask for “spe­cial treat­ment,” only for teach­ers to be mind­ful of vul­ner­a­ble kids. Sec­ond, Ms. Clin­ton didn’t win, and third, she said half of Trump sup­port­ers were “de­plorables” and then quickly re­canted, call­ing it “grossly gen­er­al­is­tic.” Mean­while, those she de­scribed as de­plorable — the racist, sex­ist, ho­mo­pho­bic and xeno­pho­bic — seem to be re­joic­ing in the elec­tion re­sults. They even got one of their own, Bre­it­bart News’ Steve Ban­non, ap­pointed as a White House ad­viser in a tri­umph for anti-Semitism.

Here’s a Twit­ter-sized and eas­ily di­gestible thought for Mr. McDonough and oth­ers who want to con­strue a mes­sage of com­pas­sion as one of di­vi­sive­ness: Stop it. Just stop it. Mary­land re­jected your brand of hate­ful pol­i­tics last week. Not only did Mr. Trump only garner about 35 per­cent of the votes, but Mr. McDonough got an even smaller share in his ef­fort to un­seat Rep. C.A. Dutch Rup­pers­berger in the 2nd Con­gres­sional District. Mary­land has no short­age of fam­i­lies with right­fully up­set kids.

Mr. Dance has made his share of gen­uinely con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sions dur­ing his ten­ure. Among the more re­cent was a new grad­ing pol­icy, re­cently mod­i­fied, that clearly could have been bet­ter han­dled. But at­tack­ing him for fail­ing to ex­plic­itly seek greater at­ten­tion for white stu­dents? Per­haps “id­iocy” is the kind­est de­scrip­tion of such crit­i­cism. Given that Mr. Dance is African-Amer­i­can and his most vo­cal crit­ics in this case are white, the ac­cu­sa­tion of racial in­sen­si­tiv­ity (and by peo­ple who cus­tom­ar­ily mock “po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness”) is par­tic­u­larly galling.

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